Refining Innovation or Opening Innovation?

Guest post by Kevin Flora


In a recent podcast, the discussion was focused around inventions.  The question was asked, “have all of the good inventions already been invented?”  The answer to this question was not a surprise.  Instead of inventing new products, the past few decades have focused on improving already existing products – making the cell phone smaller, computer storage larger, etc.  In a sense, our human minds have transformed the definition of innovation to mean refining existing material. 

Now focus on innovation in the field of education.  The layout of a classroom, the way teaching is conducted, and the school system has not changed much since the 19th century.  We still sit in rows, have a hierarchical structure that is controlled by negative reinforcement, and read textbooks.  Education as a whole is a closed system.  Innovation in education would then be a matter of refining a closed system to benefit the individual learner.  We see “innovative” ideas such as placing technology in the classroom, the flipped learning style, and project-based learning.  But is that all that is left to do in education?  Can there be more?  Have all of the good inventions already been invented?

I want to introduce you to Buddy Berry.  He is the superintendent of Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, Kentucky.  The small school building which houses all K-12 students was producing some of the lowest standardized test scores in the state prior to Berry’s leadership.  Instead of refining Eminence procedures, Berry opened up his mind to endless possibilities (resulting in a complete turnaround on state scores).  Along with having a classroom (wifi included) on a bus, a slide in the cafeteria, and kindergarten-aged kids completing an online presentation before moving on to first grade, Berry is working on changing Kentucky’s policy on enrollment.  Instead of going to a school based on where one lives, Berry proposes the state to have open enrollment and students should choose their school.  Some states already have this option, but Berry asserts that children in Kentucky could have a better education if they were able to have options in their education. 

Implications of going from closed enrollment to open enrollment are amazing.  New jobs are created so consultants can help parents / guardians customize schooling based on what is best for the child.  Essentially, every student has an individualized learning plan that extends from one end of the state to the other.  Also, schools are in competition to provide better quality education to keep students coming in.  Instead of considering innovation as a refining process, try to think of how you can innovate with an open mindset.  Do not grow weary of changing the world!   If you knew anything that you did would succeed, how would you open up your educational setting?

Image credit: Flickr user masondan  

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less